Our cultural blindness

Over the past several years I have become more aware of a blindness we carry in the American white evangelical church regarding sin.

  1. We still tend to think of sin as something individuals do.
  2. We tend to think of other people’s sins first.

In the past 10 or so years we have been faced with embarrassing scandals and trouble in all parts of the American church. From Roman Catholics to fundamentalist Baptists to megachurches. And we barely raise any recognition of something deeper going on. This is because we don’t see and understand corporate sin. We don’t see evil systems (unless, for evangelicals, you can get them to focus on abortion).

Time after time, as scandals have been exposed in some part of the Church, the glaring hole in all of it has been this: no call for corporate repentance. The best we have done? Change some policies and procedures. It’s left me bewildered.

Yet, it goes back to that cultural blindness. We just don’t see “corporate sin.” We see individual sin… and more specifically, the sins of others.

Yet, as Fleming Rutledge points out in her book, The Crucifixion,The whole people is called before the bar of God’s judgment.” (p. 310) We tend to think in dualistic terms so we will opt for individual guilt and not corporate responsibility. (Unless, again, it’s abortion.)

In Scriptures, it’s both/and. Isaiah’s call is he is a man of unclean lips dwelling the midst of people of unclean lips.

“The Old Testament prophets are well known for their indictments of whole groups of people. There will be a day of reckoning for the heedless rich, judges who take bribes, tradesmen who cheat the poor. Most shocking of all, the chosen people who had assumed themselves excused from the judgment will actually be first in line.” (p. 310)

Peter notes that judgment will begin with the household of God (1 Pet. 4:17).

God’s judgment that can fall on individuals will fall equally on corporate entities.

Yet, we have refused to acknowledge this and thus the lack of a corporate call for repentance when huge sins are exposed in the Church. We are in deep trouble and have failed to recognize it.

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